ESTORIL, Portugal - The first round of the Estoril Open kicked off on Monday with five players moving into the second round, including No.1-seeded Roberta Vinci, who got some good old fashioned revenge, though it wasn't easy.
Having lost her only previous meeting with Nina Bratchikova at Monterrey in February, Vinci was in trouble again, winning the first set but losing the second set and falling behind 4-2 in the third; but she lifted her game when she needed to, taking four games in a row to prevail, 61 16 64. Bratchikova won more points in the match, 73 to 71, a testament to Vinci lifting her game at the right times.
"I lost against her in Monterrey this year and she played very well today again, especially in the second set," Vinci said. "I was playing good tennis at the start but in the end I had to play much more aggressive to come back, and I'm very happy to win such a tough match. It was tough conditions today, too."
Vinci has very focused goals this week. "I'm the No.1 seed but it's such a tough draw here, so I'm taking it step by step and just trying to do my best," she said. "Of course I hope to win the title, but I'm just taking it match by match.
"I'm feeling confident though. I'm really enjoying my tennis now."
"It was a good start. I hadn't played a match on red clay until this event," Petrova said. "This was a perfect warm-up match for me. Tomorrow I'm playing doubles and practicing, and getting ready for my second round match."
Having gone 3-5 on hardcourts to start the year, Petrova is now 4-1 on clay. The former No.3 has had some of her best career results on this surface, her two best Grand Slam results, two semifinals, both coming at Roland Garros.
"I'm just trying to keep improving and winning matches," Petrova said. "I'm happy I'm still around, that I'm 30 in a month and am still willing to give it my best and work hard. Anything can happen. I believe strongly that as long as I stay healthy, there's a good chance for me to get back to the Top 10."
In the closest match of the day, American Vania King missed out on two set points in the first set breaker and dropped the first set, but then came roaring back to beat tenacious Swede Johanna Larsson, 67(6) 63 60.
The other 11 first round matches will all take the court Tuesday, with the rest of the Top 6 seeds - Maria Kirilenko, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Petra Cetkovska, Zheng Jie and Kaia Kanepi - all among those in action.